By Sage Allen, Legal Intern
On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order temporarily halting residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. This eviction moratorium, effective September 4, 2020, prohibits evictions through December 31, 2020 for people who cannot pay rent due to lost income or medical expenses and who are at risk of homelessness if evicted. For a full discussion of the Order and to see if you qualify for its protection, read our full blog post here.
Having rights is one thing, but knowing how to assert those rights is another. If a tenant qualifies for protection under the CDC Order, he or she needs to send their landlord this Declaration put forth by the CDC in order to assert their right to be free from eviction until December 31, 2020. It may also be wise to include a letter to your landlord explaining the purpose of the declaration. While this may seem like a lot, worry not – the folks at Suffolk University Law School have you covered.
To help tenants understand the CDC Order and exercise their rights thereunder, the Legal Innovation and Technology (LIT) Lab at Suffolk University Law School developed a free tool that allows tenants anywhere in the country to find out: 1) if they qualify for protection under the Order, 2) if so, it helps enforce those rights by drafting a customized letter on the tenant’s behalf to the landlord asserting those rights, which is then 3) easily downloadable along with the declaration form that must be attached. By combining and condensing all the information out there pertaining to the CDC Eviction Order into one, easy-to-use tool, Suffolk Law School has essentially created a one-stop-shop for halting an eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using Suffolk’s CDC Eviction Moratorium Assistant:
Using Suffolk’s Eviction Moratorium Tool is simple. First, access the tool by opening up their website, which is also mobile friendly. From there, follow the web-based tool as it walks you through the qualifying questions step-by-step. The form – which is also available in Spanish – takes about five to ten minutes to complete and contains roughly 13 prompts total.
Based on the answers you provide, if you qualify for protection under the CDC Order, the tool will generate a customized letter addressed to your landlord explaining that, as a qualifying tenant, you have rights under the CDC’s Order dated September 1, 2020. As the form comes to an end, you will then be given the option to download, print, or email the letter. NOTE: On this last screen where you can download your generated letter, do not forget to download the CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration at the bottom of the page, which must be attached to the letter that you send to your landlord.
Alternatively, based on the answers provided in the questionnaire, a tenant may not qualify for protection from eviction under the CDC’s Order for various reasons. If that is the case, as the tool explains, keep in mind that your state may have COVID-19 related laws in place that gives tenants more rights. If you are a tenant located in Arizona who does not fall under the CDC’s order of protection from eviction, check out the Arizona Judicial Branch website to see if you fall under Governor Ducey’s executive order 2020-49, which temporarily halts evictions through October 31, 2020.
Last, keep in mind that tenants who do qualify for protection under the CDC Order and send this letter and declaration can halt their evictions until December 31, 2020, at which point the CDC moratorium ends and evictions can proceed.
To view the tool, visit https://massaccess.suffolklitlab.org/housing#CDC
For questions or comments about this blog, please contact us at: Connections@sazlegalaid.org